Last week, I posted an article about Three Prospects Poised to Skyrocket in 2020. While I didn’t realize it at the time, all three of those guys are on NL teams, so it definitely wasn’t the most helpful for guys in AL-Only leagues. For that reason, this week I’m going to be covering three guys from AL teams who are going to breakout big time in 2020.
If you notice that the six prospects I’ve covered over these past two articles are all position players, that’s not by accident. You may have seen the acronym “TINSTAAPP” around the baseball world before, meaning “There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect”. While it’s a bit of an oversimplification, the reasoning behind it is that pitching prospects are significantly more risky than their position-player counterparts, so you’re more likely to get value out of a hitter than a pitcher. Additionally, the adjustment curve for pitchers in the majors is a bit steeper, and few pitching prospects contribute at a high level immediately. Many prospects struggle massively in their debuts (i.e. Berrios), and some even take a few years (i.e. Giolito, Glasnow) before really figuring it out (By the way if you’re looking for a pitcher like Berrios who struggled in their debut, I highly recommend picking up Mitch Keller.). Because of this, many former top prospects will end up hitting the waiver wire in even deep dynasty leagues, so I think you should invest in position players way more, and for that reason I’m focusing mainly on hitters.
Greg Jones – SS – TBR
Greg Jones, like Hudson Head who I covered last week, is mostly being underrated because of where he was taken in the 2019 MLB Draft. While Jones wasn’t a 3rd round pick like Head, his late 1st round selection (22nd overall) has caused him to be a bit overlooked in FYPDs so far. I’ve seen Jones mostly in the 10-20 range in most FYPDs, even falling into the 20s for some. Personally, Greg Jones is easily top 10 for me, and I would definitely take him over a guy like Hunter Bishop. If you’re not too familiar with Jones, it’s likely because he wasn’t the biggest name coming into the 2019 college season, out of UNC-Wilmington. A massive year skyrocketed Jones up draft boards, as he posted a 1.034 OPS to go along with 42 SB in only only 63 games. He also did this while walking more than he struck out, leading to a .491 OBP. He continued this success in Short Season A-Ball, where he posted an .874 OPS and really impressed scouts.
Jones’ biggest draw is his speed, as he’s one of the few true 80-grade runners. In his 48 game debut alone, Jones stole 19 bases and I think he’ll even improve his instincts as he gets more experience. What Jones has that few players with his speed do, is the ability to provide with the bat as well. Jones has a solid hit tool, as well an advanced feel for the strike zone, so he projects to be a solid contributor with AVG and OBP. He also displays above average raw power in batting practice from both sides of the plate, but hasn’t shown a ton of power in games yet. If he adjusts his approach and hits the ball in the air more, I could see him being a solid contributor for HR too, but his GB% which was at 52.2% needs to go way down.
While Jones is likely to move to CF, especially with such a crowded infield in the Rays system, he will still be extremely valuable out in the OF. Jones’ speed and ability to get on base alone make him an extremely valuable asset in fantasy, but when you factor in his raw power he has one of the highest ceilings of anyone in baseball. I personally think Jones’ is already a top 100 prospect in fantasy baseball, and I think he’ll make his way into the top 50 pretty quickly. Jones is not too dissimilar from his future teammate Vidal Brujan, and is a guy I would be targeting in every dynasty league.
Aaron Bracho, 2B, CLE
This list could honestly be made entirely of Indians prospects, with guys like Ethan Hankins, Daniel Espino, Gabriel Rodriguez, Alexfri Perez, and plenty more primed for huge breakouts this year, but Bracho is the one who I think should be on every fantasy player’s radar. Much like Pomares last week, Bracho’s bat first nature makes him even more valuable in fantasy than in real life, and has caused him to fly a bit under the radar. One thing you’ll hear about Bracho from anyone who’s seen him play is that the kid can flat out hit. Despite skipping the DSL, the 18 year old was one of the best hitters in the Arizona League, posting a 162 wRC+ in 30 games. After a slow start, Bracho posted a 1.169 OPS in the last 21 games, The Indians even felt confident enough in Bracho to send him to short season ball to close out the season, where he again held his own.
Bracho has a legitimate shot at being a 60 hit/60 power prospect, as he possesses both an incredible swing and approach. Bracho has elite barrel control, as well as solid bat speed, that makes it very difficult to fool him. When you combine this with great recognition of the strike zone, Bracho should handle higher level pitching just fine, and projects as a guy who will walk a lot, and won’t strike out a ton. On top of this Bracho has big power from both sides, which he showed in BP as well as in games, where he launched three 420+ ft. HR in his short debut. If all goes well, there’s very few prospects who can match Bracho’s upside at the plate, not just at 2B, but in all of baseball. Fellow Indians’ prospect George Valera has been compared to Juan Soto plenty of times, but I personally think Bracho could be even better with the bat, and I think he could be a top 10-20 prospect in fantasy by the end of the season. If you’re looking for a Julio Rodriguez type rise, Aaron Bracho is my guy for 2020.
Noelvi Marte, SS, SEA
Noelvi Marte is probably the prospect who is regarded the highest of the six prospects I’ve covered, but he’s also still massively underrated. As far as players whose fantasy value are far ahead of their real life value, I think Marte is towards the top of that list. This is partially because of how bad Marte’s defense is as of now, but also because of how incredible his power/speed upside is. In terms of just power and speed, I’m not sure there’s another prospect in baseball who can match Noelvi Marte. Marte is also the only player of the six who hasn’t made his debut stateside, but a solid debut stateside could do wonders for his value. Marte will look to continue the success he had in the DSL, as he dominated to the tune of a 138 wRC+.
As previously stated, Marte’s main draw is his incredible power/speed combo. Marte stole 17 bases in 65 games in the DSL, and has posted some 80 grade run times, with most giving him at least 70 speed. He also has immense raw power, as he was one of only three 18 year olds to post an average flyball distance over 300 ft. (the other two were Julio Rodriguez and Marco Luciano. You might know them). As he fills out, Marte could genuinely be a 70 power/70 speed prospect, which is something that I think only Bobby Witt Jr. can realistically match. Additionally, he does this while possessing a solid hit tool, and a decent plate approach. While his hit tool is likely not more than 50 grade, it’s certainly enough that it won’t hold him back. His stateside debut in 2020 should give us a better idea of where his hit tool is, but the power and speed alone make him already a top 25ish prospect in dynasty leagues. Marte has genuine 30/30 upside, with the potential for more of either, and I think he’ll be a top 5-10 dynasty prospect this time next year. I personally think he’ll end up in CF long term, but that won’t change how good his offensive upside is.